The baked bean index and other economic indicators

posted by Jason Kottke Sep 21, 2009

A bunch of odd economic indicators that I have read about recently. The use of the 2nd Street Tunnel in Los Angeles in car commercials:

According to FilmL.A., the nonprofit organization that coordinates on-location shooting in the city, no permits have been issued in 2009 for car commercials. Although commercial production in the city is flagging anyway — down 34% in the first quarter — the 100% drop in tunnel permits suggests "very tough times in the car business," FilmL.A. spokesman Todd Lindgren said.

The reinstatement of the £90 lingerie-and-blouse allowance at London law firm Clifford Chance:

Inevitably dubbed the "90 nicker knicker allowance", this may or may not be the most reliable indicator yet that the credit crunch is over. (Business is apparently so hectic that the firm has also installed sleeping pods.)

And from this article, several others, including:

The baked bean index — my colleague Anthony Reuben noted in the spring how the value of sales of baked beans — a classic recession food — had risen 21.6% in April compared with the same month last year. Could a reverse signal the start of a recovery?

The number of people signing up to dating agencies offering extra-marital affairs, on the basis that demand goes up either in times of excessive confidence — "I won't get caught"; or depression — "I don't care". (Sex had to figure somewhere.)

(via schott's vocab log)

Update: But wait, there's more! Sex dolls, vendor gifts, and the Puma Index.

Update: The 90-pound knicker allowance is bollocks. (thx, cheryl)

Update: How about the closing speed of car salesmen around a prospective buyer?

Here's an indicator economists should study as they study GDP: speed with which, upon entering a store, you are surrounded by salesmen. (I would record both gather-rate-in fractions of a second-and density.) I was approached by the first salesman as I came in the door, picked up another as I went by the reception desk, picked up a third as I skirted a Buick Enclave. I looked back when I reached the Corvettes. There must have been ten salesmen back there and more coming, spilling out of offices and break rooms like police cruisers appearing from side streets to chase Burt Reynolds in Smokey and the Bandit. We moved in a buzzing cloud around the Corvette. From a distance, we would have made a fine subject for a painting in the National Gallery: Salesmen and Commission; or, Depression and Its Discontents. When I stood and stared and pretended to think, they stood back and stared and pretended to think. "You know, it's not so expensive if you realize you're buying it over the course of three years."

Update: And a bunch more from Time's Cheapskate blog.

Update: And still more! Hair dye (more is sold in down times) and complimentary kids crayons at restaurants (50% fewer crayons per package).